Catching up with reading over the New Year, I found the article ‘Tough Choices for Consumer Goods companies’ in my list. (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/consumer_and_retail/tough_choices_for_consumer_goods_companies).
Reading through the challenges facing the Consumer Goods Industry, I was struck by how many of these challenges are linked to each other.
Whether it’s the need to accelerate new product launches, comply with more complex regulations or protect intellectual property, it’s clear that the scientists in this industry work in an increasingly complex world. And that’s without mentioning the pressure to reduce costs or develop innovative new products with more limited budgets.
Thinking of developing a new fruit drink for example, what must it be like to create one that:
- Meets regional specific tastes and textures
- Complies with regulations in each market of the region
- Has a cost effective manufacturing process and affordable raw materials?
And what about the workload in protecting innovation and intellectual property?
With such challenges, technology must be able to help consumer goods scientists reduce the time spent on some of these tasks.
Several obvious benefits to researchers would be achieved by working with an electronic lab notebook (ELN). For example, researchers could gain time by cloning previous experiments, exploiting experimental work done in other research centres. They could collaborate with other research colleagues, all working from a common database and with real-time data. Compliance with regulatory and intellectual property guidelines is much easier when all the data is in 1 central repository and experiment witnessing can be done with the click of a mouse.
There may be a perception that ELNs are for Life Sciences and are complex to install and use. However, the reality is that most ELNs on the market today can be adapted for a wide range of users and many are designed to meet the needs of several types of research scientists. Most have web access and some even have mobile access, important tools in fast moving industries like Consumer Goods.
So, although there may be tough choices ahead for Consumer Goods companies, there are also clear choices on technologies that can help scientists meet these challenges.